Friday, August 28, 2009

How the Cow Jumped Over the Moon

This is a photograph of a family portrait I once commisioned. It was painted by the French artist Jean-Marc Faure. From the left, there is Negrita the sheep, Petite Suisse the cow, three horses Cura, Oli and Casi (la potra: the foal) and in the foreground, Lorca our first Briard.
The subject of this story is Petite Suisse and how my father learned where the childrens' poem of the cow that jumped over the moon came from.
When we first moved to Mojácar there was no fresh milk, what we had was milk with the cream taken out, pork fat and formaldahide added. Of course there was no refrigeration so it made sense.
I had made it known amongst the local farmers that I was in the market for a cow and it became a standard joke, but after a few years I was sitting having lunch at the Focus, one of our hang-outs, when a man arrived and asked if I was the lady that had ordered the cow. Being rather taken off guard I said "well yes", so he said, good because he was the cow salesman; that she was in a truck in the parking lot and I was to take her so he could continue delivering the rest of the calves. I looked in the truck full of calves and had no doubt which one was mine. Seven day old Petite Suisse. To the amazement of the many onlookers, I picked her up, put her in my car and took her home. My father, who by this stage of my life, was not surprised by anything I brought home, said "is she just visiting or is she here for good?" Without another word he left and came back with baby bottles and UHT milk. She roamed free with all the other animals and, as is so common in my animals, she suffered an identity crisis. She thought she was a dog or at least she acted like a puppy, running down to the car to greet you, jumping up and even coming into the house. As she grew in size and affection we started having to contain her a bit which turned out to be harder than you might think. You always see cows so peacefully in a field with a small fence around it and never trying to leave but Petite Suisse wanted to be with us at all times. We started with collars and ropes, then moved to chains and finally to the stables with their typical stable door, built to keep a stallion in, only to get home to find her waiting on the terrace. Her escape was remarkable and that is when my father said he now believed the poem of the cow that jumped over the moon, because the space of the open door was smaller than she was and higher than her head. Soon after, one time while I was filling her water bucket, an old habit of hers was suddenly repeated as she jumped joyfully into my arms. Unfortunately, she weighed in at around 300 kilos and the two of us fell into a nearby manure pile, sliding merrily down to the bottom. My father was luckily on hand to dig me out.
She never produced milk, of course, because of the absence of bulls in the area. She was a wonderful pet.


Amber said...

these are great stories keep them comming

Jennifer Deakin said...

Lovely story